PERTH, Australia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Outspoken dust control advocate and partner in the Port Hedland Esplanade Hotel, Dr Con Berbatis, has announced that he will be opposing BHPB Iron Ore‘s application for an increase in its export licence from 270 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 275.
BHP has recently lodged the application with the Department of Environment Protection (DER), having had a hold put on its earlier application for 290 mtpa. This followed much resistance from the local Port Hedland community who were very concerned about dust pollution and its adverse effects on amenity in the West End.
“I oppose BHP’s attempt to work around the regulatory system. Instead of seeking a licence extension this way to meet their production outputs, they should instead fix the problem and demonstrate suitable levels of social responsibility,” Dr Berbatis said.
Dr Berbatis has made four submissions to the DER opposing the original 290 mtpa licence request, and says he will make similar submissions in this instance.
“Our ‘Dust Costs Report’ which we released to the public and lodged as a submission to the DER demonstrates that the past and ongoing costs of dust into the community and government are in the order of $300 million – and this is at their present levels.
“Any extension, even a slight extension, will only exacerbate the problem,” he said “and an application for an extra 5 million tonnes on an interim basis would have the same effect in the short term as granting BHP’s application for an extra 20 million tonnes over a full year.”
Dr Berbatis believes that before approval for any further tonnage is granted it is necessary to settle on a solution to the dust problem in the West End. The solution involves regeneration of the West End including compensation for affected parties, as well as extensive reform in town planning, the adoption of international air quality standards which apply in other parts of Australia, an end to open stockpiles and the use of LiDAR technology to ensure that Port users such as BHP adjust their operations to avoid harmful plumes impacting on the West End.
Dr Berbatis noted that while the DER is currently undertaking a trial using LiDAR technology, the trial is not measuring visible TSP dust which is impacting on the amenity of the West End, only PM10 which is not visible to the human eye although harmful to human health. He also noted that currently there are no mandated targets for visible dust; and the targets which have been set for PM10 do not apply in the West End, only at Taplin Street.